World Arthritis Day 2020: It’s important to keep your joints healthy

World Arthritis Day is celebrated to raise awareness and educate people about arthritis. This day can be seen as an opportunity to have more information regarding how to modify your lifestyle and reduce the symptoms of this disease. 

We do many things in our pursuit to stay healthy and fit. We at every moment try to control many things in life, from our diet to eating and sleeping on time, to exercising regularly. But sometimes we run the risk of developing a painful condition that usually turns into a lifelong struggle. The urban population has become increasingly sedentary, resulting in poorer muscle mass and bone strength.

Arthritis and joint pains are quite common now. From feeling the pain while sitting or standing to swellings in the joint, people are increasingly suffering from joint pain. Neck, back, knee, wrists pain has become overtly common during the lockdown because of long working hours. Sitting in one position for work for long hours is also a reason for people suffering from arthritis.

Today is World Arthritis Day which is observed to raise awareness and educate people about arthritis. This day can be seen as an opportunity to have more information regarding how to modify your lifestyle and reduce the symptoms of this disease. This day is also celebrated to make people recall the fact that they really need to focus on their increasingly bad lifestyles and eating habits.

What exactly is arthritis?

Inflammation in one or more joints is referred to as arthritis. Arthritis inflammation causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and the surrounding tissues, which usually worsen with age. An irritation in a number of joints is what basically we call as arthritis.

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Arthritis is of two types. One is osteoarthritis that results from the breakdown of the cartilage and the other is rheumatoid arthritis which is caused by weak immunity. 

Osteoarthritis affects older adults particularly. It is a degenerative joint disease in which the pain or swelling occurs due to the progressive loss of cartilage in the joints. The protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones within joints gradually wears away, which is why it is also called as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. The inner surface of the bones become exposed and rub together, and in some cases, bony spurs develop on the edges of joints, causing pain, deformity, and difficulty in movement. 

Osteoarthritis can affect almost any joint in the body but commonly occurs in the weight-bearing joints such as knees and hips. It can also affect the fingers and any joint with the previous injury from trauma, infection, or inflammation.

While rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it mostly begins to affect people when they are between 30-50 years of age. The prevalence is higher in women by two to three times more as compared to men. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by inflammation, swelling, and pain in the hands, especially the knuckles and next closest finger joints, as well as in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, and feet. This can be accompanied by fatigue as well.

There is also another form of rheumatoid arthritis, i.e., Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and as the name suggests, it affects the young population, usually between 12-18 years of age.

Risk factors of arthritis:

Weight problems are clearly a threat issue for creating arthritis. Dietary factors also play a role. Although no specific diet has been shown to prevent osteoarthritis, certain nutrients have been associated with a reduced risk of the disease. These include omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Fatty acids are known to reduce joint inflammation and can be found in certain plant and nut oils including walnut, soya bean, flaxseed, and olive oil. Vitamin D supplements can help decrease knee pain in osteoarthritis.

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The knees are weight-bearing joints, largely driven by a group of muscles in front of the thighs, the quadriceps. These muscles weaken quite rapidly due to inactivity and long periods of sitting. Weakness of these muscles usually increases arthritis pain which further deteriorates these muscles.

How to prevent arthritis?

You can’t always prevent arthritis. Some causes, such as increasing age, family history, and gender (many types of arthritis are more common in women), are out of your control. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Each type develops differently, but all are painful and can lead to loss of function and deformity.

There are a few healthy habits you can practice to reduce your risk of developing painful joints as you get older. Many of these practices – like exercising and eating a healthy diet that prevent other diseases, too. The best way to control arthritis is to control your weight and exercise. Avoiding injuries is also one effective way to avoid arthritis problems from a young age.

Arthritis can be treated through occupational or physical therapy, exercise, and over-the-counter pain-relieving medication. Alternate medicine like Ayurveda, massages with medicinal oils, and homeopathy also offer relief to some people in the early stages of arthritis.

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